Bullying is one of the biggest challenges our young people face. And, if you’re in Memphis, TN and surrounding areas, one name is almost always certain to come up whenever one is looking for guidance and expertise. That name is Leshundra Robinson. Leshundra and her organization, UCAN of Memphis have been on the forefront of bringing their whole selves to children, parents, caregivers, community leaders… anyone who wants to promote love, safety, security, and self esteem for our youth. Leshundra is nationally certified coach whose commitment is longstanding and unwavering. We are excited to share our feature on the life and work of Leshundra Robinson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of UCAN of Memphis.
How long have you been doing what you do? “I started UCAN of Memphis January 2005 and was chartered Jan 2006. I’ve been working in the nonprofit youth world since then.”
What types of services does your organization provide? “We provide in-school leadership and career exploration to high school students and character building focusing on bullying prevention for middle school students. We also come out to the community which includes schools, churches, various organizations and conduct a bullying prevention presentation for the students, parents, teachers and other community members.”
What made you decide to pursue this field? “I originally saw a need in the North Memphis area where young children needed a role model or as we say a mentor. My friend and I saw we were able to make a change with one child then wondered what it would be like if we made a child to so many others. That’s when we organized UCAN which later became UCAN of Memphis. We wanted to make a difference in the community. Now that community has expanded from North Memphis to across the Mid-South.”
What are some of the most gratifying parts of what you do? “I enjoy working with the students because not only do I see the difference we make in their behavior, but I also see a difference we make in their self-esteem. They become more confident in who they are and they learn how to speak up so they can be heard. But, most importantly, they keep me vibrant.”
What are some of the most disheartening things about what you do? “Knowing that funders don’t see the complete need of social emotional learning or bullying and how it effects the students now and in the future. So when it’s time for funding, on paper it may look simple. But in reality, it is hard work to try to help students see who they are and help guide them on who they really want to be. The behavior from the neighborhood, their home, their schools, etc., can have a toll on their learning ability, self esteem and behavior. To have them know someone does care and will advocate for them on their behalf is important. But to know that on paper people may not see that as important or the competition we have in order to get funding is heart breaking.“
Do you have any events coming up? “Due to COVID-19, all events and fundraisers have been postponed to later dates, possibly in 2021. However, do look out for the annual lip sync battle and bullying play once we have surpassed COVID-19.”
Do you have any needs that would help you better do what you do? “We need a social media manager that will handle all social media platforms which include YouTube, FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter.”
What main point(s) do you want the readers to take away from this article? “UCAN of Memphis is an organization that assists young adolescents with their career exploration and social skill development especially involving bullying prevention. We are here to help students soar high above the rest.“
How can people get in touch with you? “We can be found on all social media platforms @ucanofmemphis and our website at www.ucanofmemphis. You may contact us at (901) 262-8642 and ask for Leshundra Robinson, Executive Director.”
About Leshundra Robinson: Community. Youth. Mentoring. Those are the three words that best describe Leshundra Robinson. Ms. Robinson founded UCAN of Memphis nearly 15 years ago to address the needs of at-risk teens across Memphis and Shelby County. With more than 20 years of experience in youth development, Ms. Robinson is considered to be social responsibility coach for teens. She is an advocate for youth and is able to connect with them in way that is fun and loving, yet impactful. She coaches concepts and principles in six Shelby County Schools with the purpose of empowering teens with the tools to build, become empowered and implement self-worth. Ms. Robinson added bullying awareness into UCAN of Memphis’ programming in 2011 after her brother’s struggle with mental illness led to suicide. His last request was for her to help others with mental illness get treatment.
Ms. Robinson is a graduate of Crichton College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and has a Master’s in Public Administration with emphasis in Nonprofit from DeVry University. She is a member of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc., an AmeriCorps VISTA, and is a graduate of New Memphis Institute and Leadership Memphis.
Ms. Robinson is also a noted speaker and nationally-certified Olweus Trainer, teaching bullying prevention in the community.
Her motto is “Don’t give away your energy to people who are not giving you positive power.”